Natural products, including over-the-counter sleep aids, dietary supplements, and herbal products, are called “natural” because they may contain a substance that is found naturally in the environment. However, it’s important to note that many natural products don’t go through the same safety and approval process as prescription or over-the-counter medicines. It’s important, then, to discuss these products with a healthcare provider before taking them to make sure that they won’t interact with other things you are taking and to avoid any unintended or dangerous side effects.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), only some natural products have been studied as sleep aids. For example, very little research has been done on kava’s usefulness in alleviating sleep problems, but the research that has been done links kava to serious health problems, including severe liver damage. Studies on chamomile and valerian have not shown conclusively that these herbs help treat sleep disorders.1
Find more information about alternative therapies for sleep disorders on the NCCIH website. Remember to speak with your healthcare provider before taking any medication, including natural products and supplements.